Tuesday, June 13, 2006

AUSTRALIA VS. JAPAN

Our boys in blue were beaten 3-1 by Australia. I'm not crushed by this defeat because I don't follow Japanese football and I'm not even Japanese. I am, however, slightly more disappointed than I expected I would be.

The entertainment began with Shunsuke Nakamura's possibly unintentional goal early in the first half. Actually, for me, the entertainment began with a close-up of Alessandro Santos, the most un-Japanese Japanese representative on the planet, soulfully belting out “Kimi Ga Yo” as if he were Michael Bolton, while his confreres mumbled through it. But maybe that's just me.

Zico Japan, for the most part, was solid. The first 80 minutes or so saw a handful of seriously gorgeous saves by keeper Kawaguchi, and the percentage of possession appeared to be higher on the Japanese side. All of the "samurais" made up for their lack of height by scooting around like sweaty, busy Energizer Bunnies.

But why oh why do they topple over so easily? The difference in mass may make a minor run-in with a Socceroo (good team, stupid name*) feel like a car accident with an oversized kangaroo, but really. If you fall every time someone brushes by you, people are going to start thinking foot-binding is a Japanese thing. Having said that, there is no doubt that there were some real stinking fouls. I used to have a thing for Aloisi, but not after seeing him resort to playground shoving against Nakazawa of the spectacularly fluffy hair. (Kewell, though - be still my beating heart. Oh I'm a betrayer, get over it.)

Anyway, kudos to the Socceroos, who hammered the Japanese with 2 well-executed goals in the last 9 minutes of the match, despite – let's face it – a demoralizing goalless hour under the relentless German sun.

As aggressive and able as the Australians were, that was a game that Zico Japan could have won. What happened? I have my theories but I'll leave that to the experts.


*I once broke up with an Australian guy because he called mosquitoes "mozzies" - it was the LAST STRAW. The first time I heard someone speak to me in this way, I thought they were starting shit with me by employing "baby talk". I mean, let's be honest here. Does Socceroo sound like a character from Blue's Clues or what?

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